The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Book Review

secretIt is now one of my most favorite books, along with A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Frank McCourt’s trilogy ( Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis, and Teacher Man) , and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  ( I have just realized that most of the books above have something to do with children. Eureka!  ^_^ )

Its major theme about gardening excited me so much that I  slept  through  it  for one night  ;horticultural skills run in my blood . I love planting and gardening.

When I was in my   kindergarten, I did build my own little  garden behind our nipa hut in our province. I planted different invasive and flowering plants . So,   my neighbors were all amazed   at me because I was still too young to build one. However, I can no longer build a garden since my family and I live here in Manila. I did one when I was  in elementary but failed because the soil here  is not as arable as in our province. Besides, I don’t have time to do so.

If  gardening  were such a highly paid job, I would surely grab it and devote my life to it and at the same time read a book surrounded by the plants and flowers. Presto, it would be  beautiful and enchanting ambiance.

Like in the story how Frances Hodgson Burnett describes the ambiance, I am familiar with the smell of leaves after pouring down in torrents,  of the river  which  water smells  brackish wafting up in the air,  with the warm welcome of the sunshine in the breaking dawn, the marvelous blossoms of flowers in a garden, the  canopies of the huge trees in a forest. Also, I experienced to climb   the trees and trying to reach   the end parts of their  boughs laden with  clusters of enchanting fruits. But the more thrilling one  was  that I tried to bother the nests of birds laid  up  on  the trees. I was a naughty and pesky boy too. ^^  I miss my provincial life!

It may   not be  beautifully-written but if you read it in hindsight, you will realize that  it  is really  meaningful, intended to inculcate good virtues in readers.

  1. Hope

In the story, Mary Lennox   hopes that the garden has the big potential to revive its spirit. With her  great effort , she will  plant some  sorts of flowers again with the help of of her newly-met friend  , Dickon, whom she is very fond of. Also,   with the great impact of the Secret Garden upon Mary, she will help her mysterious cousin, Colin Craven , to be positive in life. He was born bed-ridden in the assumption that he is an invalid.

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

2. Love and Loyalty

This virtue is  illustrated by Ben Weatherstaff, the  gruff elderly gardener who introduces Mary to the robin redbreast. He clandestinely tended the garden during the ten years in which it was locked, out of love and loyalty for the Mistress Craven.

“To speak robin to a robin is like speaking French to a Frenchman”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

3. Secrecy

 Since the title of the book is The Secret Garden, no matter what your   ideology about  honesty, you will learn  more the importance of secrecy.  This principle reminded me of a famous etiquette writer’s question that, “ When someone let you her/ into her world, would you tell the other people outside what you saw inside?” My reply to it, however, is ,” It depends on the situation.”

4. Friendship

Mary’s friendship with Dickon and Colin Craven teaches me to be congenial toward other people as well as love my best friends.

“You can lose a friend in springtime easier than any other season if you’re too curious.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

5. Positive Attitude

I liked Mrs. Snowby’s  , Martha’s mother, positive attitude. She influences all the main characters.  For instance, she sends a skipping rope for Mary because she is aware of the fact that  Mary   has   poor health. Also, she sends her healthy milk to put on weight. In fact,  Mr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock both look up to her wisdom despite her poor and austere way of life.

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The story is also interesting to ponder over in the context of psychology, religion, sociology, and philosophy.

In addition,  I was challenged by reading some dialogues with Yorkshire accent. I tried to turn over the contracted words in my mind until   my nose bled a great deal. But later on I learned to love and imitate it as did Mary Lennox.

However, I want to make a fuss over  three things :

  1. Where is Camilla? If you have seen its Japanese TV animation series,  you may know the fortuneteller and healer, Camilla. I can’t forget her  because  I liked the character she played in the story. She is also a symbol of a wise woman aside from Mrs. Sowerby, but scared because of her dour and somber aura.
  1. Also, I can’t forget the scene when Mr. Craven walks through the woods where he finds out that someone is hunting there without his permission. This scene gave me an idea then that he has  aristocratic authority.
  1. As far as I remember, Dr. Craven is a crafty character who intends to weaken Colin’s health since he knows that Archibald Craven has been crest-fallen since his wife died. When he dies, he will inherit all his wealth.However, in the story, he turns out to be an uncle who knows what ” flesh and blood “ means.

Anyway, I just guessed that the   story may have been added with some ideas  since it was adapted for  a Japanese TV  animation series .

Thanks to my student for this book present. Without my literary intercourse with her, I would not know that Frances Hodgson Burnnett is also the author of  the other  two famous children’s novels such as  A Little Princes, known as   Princess Sara and Little  Lord Fauntleroy.  So, I’m gonna read them too. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

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3 thoughts on “The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Book Review

  1. This was such a great book though I read it very young so I don’t remember much of the story. All I know is that I did enjoy reading the book. I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂 I definitely need to re-read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No I actually haven’t. I read it at such a young age so the plot is not even clear in my mind, but I do have own the book so I’m definitely going to try to re=read it. Hopefully when I do get the chance I will review it. 🙂

        No I actually haven’t! I didn’t even know they had a Japanese animation series. I’ll be sure to check it out or something. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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